ABUJA— The Federal Government has decried the inability of the previous administration to settle outstanding N65 billion debt owed to fertiliser suppliers.
This is contained in a statement issued, Monday, by Garba Shehu, Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity to the President.
Shehu said it was wrong for the Goodluck Jonathan administration to purchase fertilisers worth N65 billion since 2014 and left the bill unpaid.
He said the Federal Government had to pay off the debt so that the suppliers could begin to supply fertilisers again.
The E-wallet fertiliser policy of the Jonathan administration was widely hailed as a success as it allowed millions of farmers to have access to fertiliser.
But the Buhari government suspended the programme, saying it was unsustainable, given the scale of uncleared debt.
The government, however, reversed the decision last week, and agreed to revive the policy amid an economic tumult.
The statement by Shehu attributed the current food crisis in the country to some of the unpopular policies of past administrations.
According to him, the current pain is due to the mismanagement of the past and that what Nigeria is currently experiencing was inevitable.
He said the President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration was being honest with the people, instead of piling up debts and concealing the truth by pretending all was rosy.
“This government believes that Nigerians deserve to know the truth. People stole unbelievable amounts of money. The kind of money some of these ex-officials hold is itself a threat to the security of the state.
“Since it is not money earned, they feel no pain deploying just anyhow to thwart genuine and well-intentioned government efforts.
“Sadly, even that which was not stolen was wasted. Government coffers were left empty, with huge debts unpaid and unrecorded (this government is working to quantify the amount owed).
“Even the current high food prices can be traced to past deceit. For example, the previous government purchased fertilisers in 2014, worth N65 billion and left the bill unpaid.
“In 2015 the suppliers could not supply fertilisers which resulted in a low harvest, shortages and high food prices.
“This government had to pay off the debt so that the suppliers could begin to supply fertilisers again.
Shehu expressed optimism that Nigeria had started witnessing another era of green revolution as Nigerians across the country were going back to the farms, from rice in Kebbi and Ebonyi to Soya and Sesame in Jigawa and Kano.
He said that at the same time, Nigerians were looking inwards to identify commercial opportunities from agri-businesses.